This is a guest post by Doug Cromwell, a freelance sports writer based out of Los Angeles.
The NFL conference championships are right around the corner and there are few surprises as all of the home teams have managed to make it to their respective finals. The real winners here are sure to be the fans as we fully expect to be treated to a series of high quality matches en route to Super Bowl 50. And speaking of, we have our own predictions as to who we expect to see take the field when it comes time for the big game.
You already know by now that the Panthers completely dominated the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional matchup, at one point leading Seattle 31-0. Despite a valiant comeback in the second half that brought the Seahawks to within a touchdown, Carolina simply pulled too far away to be caught and ultimately won 31-24.
The score makes the game look much more competitive than it actually was. The Panthers completely outmatched their opponents and came out looking like this year’s team to beat.
Carolina will definitely have a tough match against the Arizona Cardinals, but they’re still the favorites to advance to the big game. Carolina has the defense necessary to shut down Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense, but with the way veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been playing that might be easier said than done.
The experts at Betfair have some deeper insights into the matchup, and they pointed out that Fitzgerald could be the factor in deciding an upset for the Cardinals.
Meanwhile, the Patriots escaped the Kansas City Chiefs to earn their spot in the AFC Championship, setting us up for yet another round of Brady versus Manning. The upcoming match between Brady and Manning will mark the seventeenth time these two quarterbacks have been forced to face off as well as the fifth time the they have met up in the playoffs. Historically, Brady has won 11 out of the last 16 games, but the playoff stats are decidedly more even with each quarterback having won two out of four.
This could very well be the final match we get to see between these two. Many have begun to question whether Manning might be in the twilight of his career as injuries and age have certainly taken their toll on the QB this season.
The staff at SB Nation expect Brady to come out on top in this latest duel, with 6 out of 8 writers picking the Patriots. Based on how Brady has been connecting with a now completely healthy Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, we’re inclined to agree with them.
Should the Panthers and Patriots meet at Super Bowl 50—and they’re favored to do exactly that—this would be the second time the two teams have met in the NFL Championship.
The first time this happened was 12 years ago during Super Bowl XXXVIII, which was a barnstormer of a game lending much of hope that a rematch could be just as exciting.
While Coldplay almost practically ensures that the halftime show will be nowhere near as entertaining as the now-infamous performance of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, a rematch between these two teams might very well end up being one of the best.
Categories: Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, nfl playoffs
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